By Katie Turner – Photographer, writer, traveler – April 4, 2014
Nature photographers are like poets. They show people the beauty and awesomeness of our existence on this planet, things people usually don’t think about when they are caught up in the details of everyday living. In this way, nature photographers enrich the lives of those who see their photographs by reminding them of the wondrous things that exist all around them but that they are often too busy to think about or even notice.
Mastering the art of nature photography takes skill and practice. Here are some tips from the pros to help you take pictures that will amaze and inspire:
1. Pay attention to texture. National Geographic, which publishes some of the best nature photography in the world, recommends looking for interesting textures in the landscape, such as ridges in sand dunes. For the most effective photographs, shoot very early in the morning or very late in the evening, when the light comes in at a steep angle and creates high contrast in the textured areas.
Photo by R.H.Sumon via Flickr
2. Use a shallow depth of field when shooting wildlife. Whether you are taking pictures of insects, birds, or mammals, a cluttered background is distracting. A shallow depth of field creates a narrow band of focus and blurs out objects in the background. To control depth of field, change the aperture setting on your lens. The lower the f-stop number, the wider the aperture, and the shallower the depth of field. You can use an aperture-priority shooting mode on your camera to set the aperture manually while letting the camera set the shutter speed, or you could choose to use a fully manual mode.
Photo by suneko via Flickr
3. Hold the camera steady. When you shoot in low-light conditions, you have to compensate with a slower shutter speed, which makes your photographs more susceptible to being blurry. The National Wildlife Federation says the best solution is to use a tripod, but if that’s not possible, brace the camera using your body. Hold the camera with both hands, press your arms and elbows into the sides of your torso, keep your feet planted, and gently squeeze the shutter and then take your finger off slowly.
Photo by Nik Cyclist via Flickr
4. Focus your mind. We’re used to focusing our cameras, but great nature photographers also take a moment to focus their minds. The Digital Landscape and Nature Photography For Dummies book advises photographers be fully in the moment, without distracting themselves with thoughts about what they are going to do next. When you’re in the moment, you can fully see and appreciate the beauty around you. The more beauty you see, the more you can convey through your photograph.
Photo by julipan via Flickr
5. Experiment. It doesn’t cost anything to take digital photographs, so shoot away. Try different settings on your camera and different lenses, if you use them. Shoot a particular scene from various angles and from both close and far away. This will give you a greater selection of shots to choose from, increasing your chances of getting a perfect shot. It will also be a learning experience as you will find out more about the capabilities of your equipment. You will discover by trial-and-error what works best for shooting in different outdoor conditions.